"There is a history to Empty Bowls," says PCD Art Department Chair Jen Karl. "Pottery communities come together, raise awareness about hunger in their local town, make pots, and usually have a party where people have soup out of the bowl they just bought. I've taken part in Empty Bowls in Colorado, Boston, Rhode Island, and North Carolina. They're all over, wherever there are potters. They're all done a little differently, and the only guideline is to give all the money you raise to your local food bank."
So when news came that the Rhode Island Community Food Bank had cancelled their annual Empty Bowls event amid COVID concerns, Karl saw it as a call to action. For years, PCD has donated between 30 to 50 bowls to the event, which is routinely the Food Bank's largest annual fundraiser. In light of the event's cancellation, Karl and the PCD Parents Association decided to run their own virtual, in-house version of the fundraiser, with all proceeds going to the Rhode Island Food Bank.
"Hunger in Rhode Island is a bigger problem than ever before because of COVID," says Karl. "So it feels like a really important year to donate as much as we can to the Rhode Island Food Bank." With this in mind, Karl set the ambitious goal of encouraging the PCD community to throw 100 bowls to benefit the Food Bank. Students, alumni, faculty, and parents responded to this challenge and have now thrown 100 bowls, double the number that PCD usually contributes to the fundraiser.
"We've had kids stopping in to throw bowls between classes, during a study hall, or even after school. We've had faculty coming by a few days a week as well," says Karl. The Parents Association wrapped and bagged all 100 bowls, and Lori Kooloian and Katie Wetherby are organizing their socially-distanced sale and pickup just in time for the holidays.
"I'm glad we've been able to keep the tradition alive," says Karl. "It's the most fun form of activism, throwing bowls and working with clay, and the kids are definitely seeing it that way. The benefits are so great if we can come together, make these bowls, and sell them to help people in need."
To reserve a bowl, contact Lori Kooloian (email@example.com) or Katie Wetherby (firstname.lastname@example.org). Pick up will be Wednesday 12/16 or Thursday 12/17 from 2:30-4:30pm at the field house snack shack. Bowls are $10 each and payment by cash or check is due at pick up. Please make checks payable to the Rhode Island Food Bank.